Kevin Youkilis wanted to avoid travel and play for a West Coast MLB team, so it was a surprise to see him agree to terms with Rakuten in Japan. WEEI.com's Alex Speier writes that the Indians, Yankees and Rays were interested in Youkilis, but that Youkilis preferred retiring to flying all the way to the eastern part of the US. When the opportunity to play in Japan arose, however, Youkilis' wife and seven-year-old daughter were excited about the chance to there for a year. Youkilis says he plans to spend a year there, then decide whether he wants to continue his career (all Twitter links). Here are more notes from around the American League.
- Despite an "uninspiring" offseason, the Angels could be dramatically better in 2014, Jeff Sullivan of FanGraphs writes. The team isn't particularly well positioned for the long term, but Mike Trout gives them a huge edge, and their WAR expectation in 2013 was significantly better than their actual record. Their moves this offseason -- primarily trading Mark Trumbo to the Diamondbacks and Peter Bourjos to the Cardinals -- haven't done much to help them, at least not in the short term. But the Angels should be much better than they were in 2013, Sullivan suggests, especially if they happen to add Masahiro Tanaka.
- The reason the Rays placed catcher Chris Gimenez on waivers was that they thought he would not make the big-league team and so they wanted to sneak him through, the Tampa Bay Times' Marc Topkin tweets. The move was not made with any further roster shuffling in mind. The Athletics claimed Gimenez earlier today.